Singapore Airlines' latest business class cabin

Turning left – it’s something that every passionate lover of travel wants to do at least once in their lifetime. When you enter a business class cabin, everything is prepared just so: the lie-flat seats are upright in their glossy pods, the premium blankets are neatly folded, the generously sized flat-screen TVs are stocked with entertainment, and champagne awaits you in a real glass flute. That’s before you even get to chef-designed food and beverage offerings, white-glove service and peaceful cabin lighting. If you’re wondering about the best airlines for business class experiences, we’ve got you covered.

British Airways' Club World cabin

A passenger in British Airways’ Club World cabin

Qatar Airways

Flying business class, you get to know the cream of the crop. And Qatar Airways has the awards to prove it: not only did it top the list of the world’s best airlines for business class at the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2023, but Qatar Airways’ business class has a whopping six styles of business class seat to choose from. The plush curve of its QSuite seat, which converts to lie flat beds, is legendary, with doors you can slide across discreetly for privacy. Families or groups travelling together can also request a quartet of QSuites for a shared mega-suite; meanwhile the newer Business Class Suite (on some 787-9 Dreamliners) is even more spacious and comes with wireless charging points and a 79-inch lie-flat bed. Expect good food: Qatar also won “Best Catering” in the 2024 Airline Excellence Awards.

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British Airways

The UK’s flag carrier is known for its immaculate service and experienced flight attendants – every customer in its business class cabin is greeted by name and offered a glass of champagne as they board. The historic airline is also known for pairing with star chefs, premium champagne brands and cult British food and beverage companies for its upmarket business menu (afternoon tea is a real highlight). The brand new incarnation of its “Club Suite” started arriving on flights in 2019, with direct- access for every seat, a sliding door for privacy, 40 per cent more storage space and wifi all adding a vast improvement to the airline’s former offering.

Emirates

An onboard bar is a perk you don’t see on every flight is a trip to a mile-high bar. And Emirates is one of a handful of airlines that have crafted these separate spaces with seating areas, for a sociable leg-stretch during long flights. Lacquered woods and cream leather characterise Emirates’ luxe-feeling business-class seats, while switched-on flight attendants are quick to offer drinks and bring beautifully presented meals on gleaming chinaware. The airline launched ultra-luxe amenity kits with Italian brand Bulgari in 2023, with business class flyers enjoying mini Amethyste eau de toilettes as well as rich moisturisers, lip balm, a mirror, dental kit and foldaway hairbrush. 

Singapore Airlines' latest business class cabin

Singapore Airlines’ latest business class cabin

Turkish Airlines

Turkey’s national carrier is known for its comprehensive network connecting east and west; and the business class experience is just as glamorous as you’d expect. Sculptural, curved black seating pods are well padded and feel spacious even for taller passengers. Turkish Airlines was awarded Best Business Class Catering for its onboard food and beverage in 2023, with menu items including mezze platters, kofte, swordfish brochette and Turkish “borek” pastries. Denon noise-cancelling headphones are provided to every business class passenger, for a seamless movie-watching experience, as are slick leather pouches of Ferragamo beauty products.

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Singapore Airlines

Known for its superb food and ever-smiling hospitality, Singapore Airlines is a carrier many business travels relish the thought of flying business class with. Its ‘Book the Cook’ feature means you can peruse a broad menu pre-flight and reserve your main course in advance; food is beautifully presented, while drinks include premium champagnes like Piper-Heidsieck, Singapore Sling cocktails and even mile-high cappuccinos. Meanwhile Singapore’s lie-flat beds are handcrafted from Scottish leather and diamond-stitched, with a cushioned headboard adding extra comfort. Wifi is also free to all business passengers.

Delta 

Often scooping the top spot when business travel bloggers rank the USA’s best business class experiences, Delta is a delight to fly in style. The service has had specific shout-outs from the likes of business travel website The Points Guy, while Business Traveler US crowned Delta the best business class in 2023. Its Delta One cabin refreshes you with a hot towel service on arrival, with swish Someone Somewhere amenity kits for further pampering throughout the flight. The buzz is all about the recently-launched Delta Suite, which has a fully lie-flat bed with memory foam, sliding doors (on most aircraft), do not disturb signs for passengers, and premium bedding made from recycled materials, including plastic bottles.

The Japanese 'Washoku' menu on ANA (All Nippon Airways)

The Japanese ‘Washoku’ menu on ANA (All Nippon Airways)

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin adds a little extra insider factor to its business class by playfully naming it “Upper Class” – and in the absence of a First Class cabin, the airline’s business one does feel as deluxe as it gets. Disco-hued low lighting adapts to help you acclimate to time-zone changes; plush maroon-leather seats glide effortlessly to a flat bed, with generous, squishy bedding provided by the flight attendants. Virgin is also well-rated for its service – which, unlike some nation’s airlines, manages to be friendly, cheeky and irreverent as well as capable and helpful. It also has character-packed, sociable airport lounges at its main hubs: London Heathrow’s Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse has Peloton bikes, relaxation pods, a video-game zone and pool table.

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Cathay Pacific

This Hong-Kong-based airline is one of Asia’s most luxe flying experiences; a business class fare here will buy you a few hours in the award-winning Aria Suite seat (launching in Q4, 2024) with a 24-inch widescreen TV you can connect to with Bluetooth. Business Traveler recently listed  the new design as one of their 10 most anticipated business class cabins of 2024. In the meantime, super-soft bedding, switched-on service and a well-stocked inflight entertainment system all keep fans of the airline coming back for more. As does the food: Asian-influenced papaya salads, beef tenderloin, prawn stir fries with jasmine rice or truffled Croque Monsieurs.

ANA (All Nippon Airways)

Those who know their airline loyalty points and global business routes all covet a seat on an ANA long-haul flight to Japan. Its seat design “The Room” has one of the most generous seating areas on the global business class landscape, with tons of storage space, a 24-inch movie screen and a sliding door to hide away behind. All business class flyers get a collectable amenities pouch designed by cult luggage brand Globetrotter, a lie-flat bed and a choice between a traditional Japanese menu and an international one. Go for the former: the airline’s Executive Chef Shimizu is highly regarded, and this beautifully crafted, multi-course meal might include snapper sushi, miso-marinated mackerel and wakame salads, all served on beautiful Japanese ceramics.

Etihad

Back to the Arab Gulf for another deluxe business class cabin. Abu Dhabi’s home airline has been ahead of the game for some time when it comes to technology (wireless charging points, Bluetooth connection), inflight entertainment and seat innovations. Frequent flyers rave about its chic Acqua di Parma toiletries, Armani Casa blankets, marble-effect table tops and plush flat-bed seats with soothing, lamp-style lighting. Lunches and dinners are also served on smart Armani Casa chinaware: expect lashings of champagne, Arabic mezze, expertly executed curries and a broad wine and spirits selection. Little touches like noise-cancelling headphones and seats with a massage function add hotel-style luxury to the business class experience.

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